Smith, O’Keefe power Australia to victory (Roundup)

Pune, Feb 25 (IANS) Inspired by an all-round effort, Australia ended India’s 19-match record unbeaten streak after thrashing the hosts by a mammoth 333 runs within three days of the opening Test at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Saturday.

Playing his first Test in the sub-continent, left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe turned out to be the dark horse, taking six wickets in each innings to break the backbone of the Indian batting as Virat Kohli tasted his first defeat as skipper of all three formats.

Chasing a mammoth 441, the home side once again succumbed to the visiting spin duo of O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon to be dismissed for a paltry 107 in their second essay.

The visitors have now taken a 1-0 lead in the four-match Test series.

O’Keefe returned figures of 6/35 — the best of his nascent four-Test career while Lyon took 4/53.

O’Keefe ended up with match figures of 12/70. Earlier, in the first innings, the 32-year-old left-armer had also registered figures of 6/35 to skittle the hosts out for 105 in response to Australia’s first innings score of 260.

Coming in to bat in the post-lunch session after dismissing Australia for 285, the hosts ran into trouble early in their second essay with Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul and Kohli returning to the pavilion even before the Indian total had reached the 50-run mark.

Cheteshwar Pujara — the highest scorer in India’s second innings with 31 — and Ajinkya Rahane could add only 30 runs between them before the latter mistimed a delivery from O’Keefe only to find Lyon at cover.

Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been in excellent batting form in recent times, lasted all of eight deliveries before being trapped leg before by O’Keefe. The umpire had initially adjudged Ashwin as not out, but a review by the visitors prompted a change in the decision.

The hosts were reeling at 99/6 at the tea break and the Australians needed only six overs after the restart to complete the win.

Pujara was dismmissed by O’Keefe in only the second delivery after tea as a delivery that skidded off after pitching hit his pad plumb in front of the wicket.

Ravindra Jadeja was the next to go while attempting a cut off Lyon. But the left-hander misread the turn only to inside edge the ball onto the stumps.

Lyon then cleaned up remaining Indian tailenders in the form of Ishant Sharma and Jayant Yadav to hand the visitors a memorable win.

Earlier, Steven Smith led from the front with a century as Australia were dismissed for 285 in their second innings at the stroke of lunch to move to a commanding position.

Dropped by Ajinkya Rahane off Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling, the Australian skipper went on to make the most of the reprieve to post 109, his first century in India.

He hit 11 boundaries during his 202-ball stay in the middle before being trapped leg before by Ravindra Jadeja.

Ashwin dismissed O’Keefe to put an end to Australia’s second innings at the stroke of lunch.

Ashwin was the most successful among the Indian bowlers with figures of 4/119. Jadeja and fast bowler Umesh Yadav clinched three and two wickets respectively, while rookie off-spinner Jayant Yadav had one scalp to his name

India started the day on a positive note with overnight batsman Mitchell Marsh offering a thick outside edge to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha off Jadeja’s bowling.

But Smith and Matthew Wade got together to carry the visitors’ second innings past the 200-run mark.

Umesh Yadav, who was impressive throughout the morning session, got his reward when Wade offered a thick edge to Saha.

The left-hander had got a reprieve earlier in the over when the ball took a slight touch of the toe end of the bat on its way into Saha’s gloves.

Wade’s departure saw Mitchell Starc join his captain in the middle and the two proceeded to put pressure on the hosts by scoring at a brisk rate.

The Indians, however, hit back by removing Smith, Starc, Nathan Lyon and O’Keefe in quick succession just ahead of the lunch break.